There’s not much that Quantrena Falls wants out of life.
It would be nice to go back to school, she said, to study sign language or a foreign language.
And it would also be nice, one day, to replace her 1991 Geo Prism and the thousands of miles it’s logged over the years.
But the 45-year-old lifelong Charlotte resident figures those things can wait.
Falls is a stay-at-home grandmom to JaQuentis Lindsay, 4, and Jahzara Lindsay, 10 months. Her two adult children also live in her three-bedroom apartment near Archdale Drive and Old Pineville Road.
“I told them, ‘Don’t worry about getting anything for me for Christmas as long as my grandkids have what they want,’ ” Falls said.
Falls said the apartment can get crowded, but trips with her grandchildren to Park Road Park, Bible study on Wednesday, and Sunday school on the weekends are a pleasant reprieve.
The grandchildren are among some 6,000 area youngsters registered for help from the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau. The bureau, with help from the Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund, will provide gifts for roughly 14,000 children this year.
Falls received help from the Salvation Army earlier in her life.
At 21, she was a young mom raising two children and battling clinical depression. The illness made getting out of bed difficult and going to work nearly impossible.
Now, years later, the family is fighting the economic downturn in Charlotte.
In 2011, nearly 30 percent of children younger than 5 years old in North Carolina lived in poverty, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s up from 22.6 percent in 2007.
In Mecklenburg County, 23.8 percent of kids younger than 18 lived in poverty last year, compared with 13.8 percent five years ago, data show.
Falls said money has been tight in recent years. The family scrapes by on food stamps, Social Security, housing vouchers and disability payments for her depression.
The situation got worse, when Falls’ son, DaAnton, 22, lost his job as a cook more than a year ago. He’s been looking for a new job but has yet to land one.
Her 24-year-old daughter, QuanMeshia, JaQuentis and Jahzara’s mom, spends most of her days in cosmetology school. She’ll graduate in March, Falls said.
“I want to go to school, but I’m letting my daughter do what she needs to do,” Falls said. “I don’t want her to be missing out.”
Until then, Falls will continue to care for and entertain the grandkids (though they mainly entertain each other, and her, she admits).
She said JaQuentis loves to play with electronics and trains and wants a race-car bed for Christmas. But Falls thinks clothes might be a better option for the 4-year-old.
Besides, Falls said, she’s already told the boy that life can be difficult and sometimes you can’t get what you want.
“We’re dealing with (the financial situation),” Falls said. “We’re not complaining about it. I’m praying that something better comes available.”